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A. W. Musk. Department of Respiratory Medicine, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and School of Population Health, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA, Australia

Although asbestos has been used for various purposes since antiquity, asbestos related diseases did not begin to come to the notice of the medical profession until the turn of the 20th century. As industrialisation expanded, the value of asbestos as a cheap, strong, fire and acid resistant insulator was recognised. Records of cases of asbestosis date back to 1898, and Cooke first described asbestos as a cause of pulmonary fibrosis in the scientific medical literature in 1924. There was extensive evidence of an association between asbestos and lung and pleural cancer, particularly from Germany, in the 1930s, but it was not until 1955 that Richard Doll clearly demonstrated its causative relationship to lung cancer and Wagner its almost unique role in the causation of malignant mesothelioma …

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